Theodore Lionel Sourkes | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Theodore Lionel Sourkes

Theodore Lionel Sourkes, OC, biochemist, neuropsychopharmacologist (born 21 February 1919 in Montréal, QC; died 17 January 2015 in Montréal, QC). One of Canada's great scholars, he became professor of psychiatry at McGill in 1965 and director of the neurochemistry laboratory at the Allan Memorial Institute of Psychiatry; in 1970 he was appointed professor of biochemistry, retiring in 1991. He was a prime mover in the establishment of biochemical psychiatry as an accurate discipline.

Sourkes was a brilliant scientist, internationally known as a pioneer in nutrition, particularly for studies of the role of vitamins in the nervous system and the metabolism of brain neurotransmitters. He was one of the originators of the studies that led to the use of L-DOPA in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, and his introduction of methylDOPA into the pharmacological literature resulted in its widespread use to combat hypertension.

He received the senior award of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation 1963-66, became a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1971 and was honoured with the first Heinz-Lehmann Award in neuropsychopharmacology in 1982.

Esteemed by students and colleagues, he is the author of more than 300 publications, among them a landmark study of the biochemistry of mental disease (1962) and an account of Nobel Prize winners in medicine and physiology. Sourkes was honoured with investiture into the Order of Canada as an Officer in 1993.